Housekeeping has never been a strong point for many adults with ADHD. Disorganization and clutter abound. Tasks are left undone, projects half finished. This can become a problem in a relationship when one person is concerned about the “neatness” of the household and feels uncomfortable amid the clutter. Resentment can build as each person begins to feel their own needs are not being met, or their needs are being dismissed as not important.
An article that appeared on CNN recently addressed this issue. In the article, several options are given to help solve this problem:
- Compromise. Find a middle ground that both of you can live with. For example, the “neat” partner might make a list of a few chores that are most important. These chores can take priority and other chores can be placed lower on the priority list. Both partners can make a commitment to be sure those “special” chores are completed on a regular basis. Other chores can be completed on an “as needed” basis. Both partners need to make a commitment that this arrangement is okay and will be accepted.
- Accept Responsibility. There are many chores and household duties required on a daily basis in order to keep a home running smoothly. Chores can include cleaning, laundry, yard work, food shopping, cooking and errands. Many times, while one person may not be good at keeping the home neat and tidy, they may enjoy and be skilled at cooking or yard work. Dividing chores based on what each person is good at can allow each person to take responsibility for a portion of the household chores, without the amount of frustration that can come along when someone feels forced and pressured to do certain tasks. Taking responsibility for those chores that are important to you, whether you are the “neat” person and accept the cleaning of the house, or whether you are the “messy” person and take responsibility for the errands and food shopping. Using strengths rather than weaknesses can improve both the efficiency of the household and your relationship.
- Create a separate messy hideaway. One of the last suggestions made in the article was to find a “messy hideaway.” This might be a separate room in which one person can institute their own way of organization. The “messy” person may have a room in which they can have piles of papers and whatever other clutter they choose. Or the “neat” partner may be interested in having one room in the house where they can feel organized and relax without clutter. In the article, the “messy” partner used her car as her place to keep messy.
No matter what compromise you come up with, it will need to work for you. One couple’s middle ground may not be the same as another’s. It is important to evaluate your own situation and take your relationship into consideration. Remember, no matter what you choose to do, concentrate on your partner’s strengths rather than their weaknesses. Feeling appreciated for what you bring to the relationship as well as remembering what your partner brings to the relationship is most important.
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Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.